Curse of Tippecanoe
The name Curse of Tippecanoe (also known as Tecumseh's Curse, the Presidential Curse, Zero-Year Curse, the Twenty-Year Curse, or the Twenty-Year Presidential Jinx) is used to describe the death of Presidents of the United States in office while elected or re-elected in a year ending in "0".
The "curse" began when President William Henry Harrison (elected in 1840) died in office from pneumonia just one month after becoming President. According to a folk tale, the "curse" happened because then-General Harrison had fought on Native American grounds during the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe. The battle was famous, and "Old Tippecanoe" became Harrison's nickname. But the battle made the Native Americans so angry that they cursed his name.
The last President included in this "curse" to die was John F. Kennedy. He was elected in 1960 and assassinated in 1963. Two later Presidents elected in "0" years—Ronald Reagan (1980) and George W. Bush (2000)—survived assassination attempts.
Presidents[change | change source]
The following Presidents were part of the "curse":
- William Henry Harrison (1841) (Pneumonia)
- Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865, second term) (Assassinated)
- James A. Garfield (1881) (Assassinated)
- William McKinley (1897-1901, second term) (Assassinated)
- Warren G. Harding (1921-1923) (Pneumonia)
- Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945, fourth term) (Brain hemorrhage)
- John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) (Assassinated)
The only president who died in office without being elected in a "cursed" year was Zachary Taylor, who was elected in 1848 and died in 1850.
Survivors[change | change source]
The most recent two Presidents elected in a "zero" year survived the "curse":
- Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) (Assassination attempt)
- George W. Bush (2001-2009) (Assassination attempt)
Many people think that the curse was broken or lifted when John Hinckley tried to kill Ronald Reagan while he left a hotel in Washington, D.C.. After Reagan survived the attack no other Presidents after him were harmed until George W. Bush was elected. When George W. Bush was elected in 2001, someone tried to kill him, but did not succeed.
References[change | change source]
- Randi Henderson and Tom Nugent, "The Zero Curse: More than just a coincidence?" (reprinted from the Baltimore Sun), November 2, 1980, in Syracuse Herald-American, p C-3
- "The Curse of Tecumseh". Snopes.com. http://www.snopes.com/history/american/curse.asp. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
- The Sunday Intelligencer (Doylestown, PA), April 5, 1981, p 8
- CNN.com - Bush grenade attacker gets life - January 11, 2006
Other websites[change | change source]
- The Mortal Presidency: Film and Documentary Shapell Manuscript Foundation